My favorite shifts are the ones barely noticed, as though they don’t have much to do with me, at all. When did the sky, become so blue? Have I always laughed so loud? I don’t want to eat the chocolate, but instead, the strawberry. It’s no longer jasmine that reels, but orange blossom.
Such pleasure, simply observing. Tendencies toward contraction quieten, and there is no story to tell. How to instead let the magic be.
So many things make up our stories, our lives. Various objects, substances, ideas, obligations. It’s interesting to just let some run their course. Let the shampoo, make up, frozen food, all run out. Notice the qualities of the emptiness when less and less, frames the openness. No de-cluttering or organizing. So soothing to appreciate the space, taking over.
Rather than the bursts and busts of energy, charges of accumulation, a gentle stirring, building, an easy-ing of things. A million gentle surrenders.
“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
I was standing in the kitchen of the outdated apartment we struggle to afford, injured dog across the main room looking out at me from his new crate hoping for potatoes, rubbing the pinched neck that was my pinched back a few days ago and getting ready for a job that like all jobs, I both love and loathe (and need even more than I did before taking said dog to the Vet), when I found myself smiling, bubbles of “I love my life” permeating the air.
It made no sense, wonderfully, and that no-sense reminded me ~ spaciousness is always available. There is always room. One doesn’t have to pretend that things aren’t hard when they’re hard, or that there aren’t worries when there are. But that’s not all there is.
In celebration, here are a few more photos of Fairchild Gardens. 🙂
I continue to be captivated by ChatGPT’s capabilities, admittedly with trepidation over the many existential questions it poses. As someone who loves books and reading, and who earnestly believes that to read someone’s writing is to get to know them as a person in an intimate way, will I be able to tell if there is a person behind something I engage with?
Right now, yes, I think I can tell for the most part. There is some kind of synchronistic complexity I experience myself as tapping into when engaging with someone, an opening of worlds between us. But am I kidding myself? How long will I be able to do that? To what extent do I want myself to become an enhanced person? SO much to ask.
Below is ChatGPT’s latest response to my giving just a few requests, as I continue to go down the list of ‘things I’ve meant to write about’. It becomes something different along the way, certainly, but that might not be a bad thing.
The young girl walked through the streets of Kyoto, mesmerized by the vibrant autumn leaves that carpeted the ground. As she wandered through the city, she stumbled upon a hidden path that led her to an ancient temple nestled in a moss garden. The garden was a sea of green, with verdant moss covering the ground and trees, giving the impression of an enchanted forest. The girl marveled at the sight, feeling as though she had stepped into a fairy tale. The temple itself was a work of art, with its ornately carved doors and shimmering golden roofs. The walls were adorned with intricate frescoes and murals, depicting scenes from ancient legends and mythologies. The girl tentatively stepped inside, feeling a sense of awe and reverence wash over her. The interior was equally breathtaking, with its polished stone floors and delicate paper lanterns. The air was filled with the sound of chanting and the soft glow of candlelight. The girl sat down on a cushion, closed her eyes, and let the peaceful atmosphere wash over her. As she left the temple, the girl couldn’t help but feel a sense of enlightenment and inner peace.
ReadingGesture of Great Love, the newest book from the Time Space Knowledge series by Tarthang Tulku. Striking quite a different tone from TSK itself (still my favorite), it is immediate and refreshing, appropriately urgent. Yet, there’s a friendliness which pervades the book too, similar to another given to me earlier this year, Radically Happy. Both focus on greeting life with openness and ease day-by-day, and both could be given to a person who isn’t on a Buddhist path necessarily.
I can’t see yet whether the text will sustain this urgent tone, but in an early portion the author zeroes in on that narrow-minded scriptwriter I’ve mentioned before, who in my case had become adept at mimicking my inner guidance system. Here, that scriptwriter is called “the regime.”
I’m fond of sword metaphors and Taoist themes because there is a focus on energy. Things can happen to offset chi, affecting whether a character’s skills remain capable. It could something as subtle as a barely perceptible fragrance that fills the air, or a tune similar to a soothing one. Parsing out said deviations, exposing them, could take countless eons.
So, the book so far suggests parser and loop as entangled, involved in mutually assured entrapment, and knowing this as the way to step out entirely (never any trap nor person to be trapped).
So what about the Bodhisattva ideal Mahayana posits as worthwhile aspiration? “Beings are limitless; I vow to save them all.” This doesn’t mean to save as in a hero-person acting as a savior to “beings”–it rather cracks open that notion, as in the story of Avilokitesvara, who exhausted his capacity to empty the hell realms over and over again, before sprouting eleven heads and a thousand arms.
I like how, in the version of the story below, Amitaba Buddha is a sort of father figure, dusting off their child, giving them new and better armor to better fulfill their longing:
One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until he had freed all sentient beings from saṃsāra. Despite strenuous effort, he realizes that many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven pieces. Amitābha, seeing his plight, gives him eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara tries to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitābha comes to his aid and invests him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes. [WIKIPEDIA] 
Even so, I’ve long been drawn to the quote “The foolish are trapped by karma; the wise are liberated by it” because of this dynamic…(beings as) bridges opening and closing the gates, even if only to display that there are no gates, no beings to open them for. Time pointing to no time, endlessly. Is this what Dogen calls Ceaseless Practice?
No suffering, no end of suffering…
Human beings become exhausted when they attempt to hold and manage karma, to respond out of ideologies, but the Bodhisattva is (made of) Love. There’s no draining voice in Avilokitesvara’s mind repeating “I’m tired…” There’s nowhere for such a voice to be generated from nor to land.
Wonderful practice session this morning, still ongoing really, since I come to write just after meditating. The rhythms and music and feeling of the practice were guiding, leading into a sense of reaching deeply into light… light in the sense of lightness rather than brightness. The subtlety and beauty of this place, indeed the place itself, almost imperceptible, yet very much ‘there’ too, seemed a place wherein friends and I could simply experience no-being-ness together. Blissful.
Considering refuge tree practice, I wonder whether visualizations may have arisen as devotees sat beneath trees, finding shade–refuging–from harsh sunshine. The heat is incredible here, Miami in August, so the way this makes sense is quite tangible, and helps me to really experience the trunk and branches of the practice, where the bodhisattvas and arhats may be situated, where “I” am. “Bodhi” dimension. Yesterday in therapy we talked about boundaries and tears, and the way that when readying for retreat, boundaries are thinner, dreaming more constant and vivid, tears more near at hand.
One day last week, I made a mistake in sharing too much about my background with a new manager, which may have happened because I was caught up into her energy, perhaps related to this ‘thinness’ phenomena. I can find myself almost drunk with an openness that seems like freedom at the time, but in retrospect I find embarrassing and may well be inappropriate. She and I do not know one another yet. I just knew she had experienced a lack of support in early life, emancipating from her parents at a young age, yet had managed to pursue her education. Impressive. I took this fact as immediate kinship, so flung open the gates.
I texted later and apologized for oversharing, asked her to keep what I’d blurted out between us. She said she would, so that’s where we are. If I’d done something like this years ago, I probably would have contrived a reason to leave my job, feeling too exposed, but perhaps due to therapy–having that place to hear and be heard–the stream kept flowing.
Various components of the absurd are discussed in the academic literature and different theorists frequently concentrate their definition and research on different components. On the practical level, the conflict underlying the absurd is characterized by the individual’s struggle to find meaning in a meaningless world. The theoretical component, on the other hand, emphasizes more the epistemic inability of reason to penetrate and understand reality. Traditionally, the conflict is characterized as a collision between an internal component, belonging to human nature, and an external component, belonging to the nature of the world. However, some later theorists have suggested that both components may be internal: the capacity to see through the arbitrariness of any ultimate purpose, on the one hand, and the incapacity to stop caring about such purposes, on the other hand. Certain accounts also involve a metacognitive component by holding that an awareness of the conflict is necessary for the absurd to arise. [Wikipedia]
Absurdist is the way I’ve been describing myself these days, because when pressed to give an answer for anything, especially anything that could be called a belief, that answer usually has a lot of space around it, and a dozen or more qualifiers. I’m way more full of possibilities for what could be wrong in what I’m saying or ways I might fail to be right–way more loopholes than formulas.
Since everything is but an illusion, Perfect in being what it is, Having nothing to do with good or bad, Acceptance or rejection, One might as well burst out laughing! -Longchenpa
For instance it is often tricky to talk about my spirituality with anyone not so inclined, because well, I’m rather devout, while not having beliefs per se, while also totally and entirely buying in! Do I believe in deities? Well no, except yes absolutely, just not as separate beings; I don’t believe in beings at all for that matter, and am entirely committed to them. There’s just so much like this, and I’m so aware of what it must sound like and seem, which means there’s almost always an irreverent mischief beneath the surface.
W.H. Auden captured so much when he wrote “We are here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know.”